Riders;
Jason Bolt – Stoat Killer
Neil S – Mr Pink
Coops – The Navigator
Alex – The Horn
Pat – Retro man
Neil K – The Schemer
David Rielly – Enduro Champ
Cam – The Doorman
Foxdale – Innocent
Ned – Broken Man
Barry – Mr Slow (first to the bar)
Seamus – Make it a double
Pete – Mr Methane

Day 1

The journey down to Cardiff seemed longer than it was due to the windows in the van not opening and Pete’s IBS playing up.  Bolty the driver woke up just as we were going through the gates of Cardiff YHA.  Some might describe Cardiff YHA as shabby chic some as dilapidated.  As we arrived quite late and knowing tomorrow’s ride was going to be quite tough we all put £20 in the kitty and headed for the pub.  The room was cozy with 13 in it, sleeping was like an extreme sport not knowing if the beds were going to collapse they were that rickety.  At the front was a railway line and the rear a motorway luckily Cam drowned the noise out.  In the morning the room was like a David Attenborough documentary at a watering hole on the Serengeti.

Day 2

Once we arrived at Bike Park Wales we decided to mend our bikes.Watching all the riders arriving with full face helmets, pads and body armour we wondered what lay ahead.  Dave Rielly showed no fear being Laxeys only over 50 Enduro Champion with a beard, he had nothing to worry about being a seasoned campaigner, after all his entry for Fort William was already in via his agent Neil K.
We set off up a blue run aptly named ‘beast of burden’ which was a good single track climb for about two miles, at the top it was quite pleasing to beat the up-lift service that set off at the same time, though the downhill riders did look a lot fresher and weren’t sweating the previous nights alcohol out.
The start of the descents at the summit are all given different names, we did ‘Melted welly’ to start with followed by ‘Willy waver, Blue belle, Sixtapod, Bushwacker, Wibbly Wobbly and Rim dinger’.  All were fast glowing with big berms in and out of the trees…..trees are those woody things that are green at the top, not many left here since the stoat killer went postal. Rim Dinger was the exception a rocky descent that Pat loved with his rigid forks.  Dave R made it look easy being Laxeys only over 50 Enduro champion rider with a beard, Cam was close on his tail even without his body armour.
Unfortunately after every descent the two mile climb had to be done to get back up to the top, we were denied a ride in the up-lift after word got out about Pete’s flatulence.  Back at the trail centre cafe disappointment reigned as nobody had come off the rut slut was still in Ned’s hands from last years tour.  At the cafe Pat did a miracle making a Cappuccino out of a filter coffee his arms were shaking that much after the red run with no suspension, we had to leave the cafe in a rush after Kerruish emptied his bladder over the floor and the toilet was only 5 yards away (it’s his age).
Disaster struck as we were about to depart, the bikes have to be packed away in a certain order, Coops has all this info in his little book, including other important tour data…..it was gone, lost or stolen, panic ensued, Coops getting more worked up, nothing could happen without this book we all searched high and Ned low, from nowhere it turned up……it was that joker Kerruish playing a prank…….what a jester or twot!
Alcombe YHA was to be our accommodation for the rest of the tour, a cross between Fawlty Towers and Misery, the manager had the people skills of Stalin…. “Breakfast will be served at 8:00 you’ll get one sausage, one rasher of bacon, one egg and 17 beans”.
The 2nd ride that Coops planned was a 10 yard warm up then straight up a hill.  An innocuous bridle path soon took a turn for the worse, turning into a fast rocky descent Pete took the high line only there wasn’t one, the rut slut was his…..for 30 seconds……Barry found some sticky clay that wasn’t sticky enough spitting him off his steed, arriving at the bottom he looked like member of a long lost tribe from national geographic covered in red clay.  A short road ride to the next climb which was actually fun, bit like honey hill only for about a mile, some ramblers going the other way could be heard muttering “that man had a blow up doll on his back”.
Passing some Exmoor ponies on the way Kerruish asked if you’re allowed to shoot them, Bolty thinks you can as long as it’s done humanely…..try telling that to the feckin stoats.  At the top there was a Cairn, Dave climbed up with his bike for a photo shoot for ‘Over 50’s Enduro Rider with a beard magazine’.  Some tourists were sat on the other side of the cairn Kerruish didn’t see them, whilst throwing stones at Dave they reigned down on them……..we managed to convince the police that it was a young offenders rehab ride and Kerruish has a mental age of 7.
After a descent that was littered with drainage ditches there was a bit of road through the quaint thatched cottage villages of Porlock and Allerford (not a patch on Foxdale though).  One of the lanes is called ‘Dunster Steep’ so we knew what to expect, another long climb though enjoyable broad leaf woodland, Bolty dreamt of felling it all and eradicating the stoats from it.  At the top across a road we could see the cairn less than 50 yards away, much to Barry’s dismay we rode the 2 mile up hill route to it and were rewarded with a view that was virtually the same as looking down the coast to Niarbyl.
After some strong Anglo Saxon language from Barry we moved onto the Coastal path to Minehead a fast single track ending with a hairpin bend descent.  Before we headed home we stopped for an ice cream on the front, Kerruish had to have a spit wash to clean his face, Ned got his for free the owner thinking he was a child.

Day 3

Everybody raring to go after a night of replacing lost fluids.  Not entirely sure of where we where Pete went to read the information board “Where are we Pete?”….”  Don’t know but there’s a Dunster Warbler in these woods”….fecking nugget.  Assuming we must be in Dunster we set off doing the first of the climbs we didn’t need to do up to another cairn, Cam, Coops and Pete taking the piss easy route the rest going the steep route.  The view at the top was spectacular taking in the dump that is Port Talbot and Hinkley Nuclear Power Station where Bolty played as a child…..explains a lot.
The Quantocks is full of bridle ways easy to get lost as we proved, the climbs were very hard the descents smooth sweeping…..apart from one loose rock downhill were Alex was introduced to the rut slut, though at first contested the stewards upheld there decision.  Begrudgingly we took our hats off to Laxeys over 50 Enduro rider with a beard, for clearing a nightmare climb, at the top Coops, Seamus and Ned shouted from the bottom “Sorry lads wrong way it’s this way”…..in unison the reply could be heard echoing through the valley “Feck off we’ll meet you further round, we’re not coming down”.  Once down in the valley basin the Quantocks come into their own brilliant single track that traverses through streams.  After lunch we had time for one more ride and another feckin climb which went on and on, at the top there were more of those hairy Exmoor glue factories, by chance we bumped into a local rider that told us of a trail we would never have found, a rooty descent for about 200 yards with your back brake on all the way then a technical trail criss crossing a river with steep drops….one mistake and the rut slut would be yours till next years tour.  Back at the van Ned waited anxiously for a Strava update, he didn’t get one segment……bikes away tour over.

Tour points :-

Cam waking us all up struggling opening the door in the middle of the night….Neil S, “for fecks sake charge it, it will be a lot quieter”
The Brittainia pub head bar man Shaun, the campest gay in the village after a hour of conversation full of innuendo, Dave Rielly ……”Hang on, are you gay?”
Shaun to Cam, “Those shorts reveal everything I’d give you a favourable review”.
Kerruishs words of wisdom ” follow those sheep they take the easiest route”……yeah straight to the abattoir.
General question at the bar “what you drinking” ….Cam…. “a bottle of Red”
Country bumpkin at petrol station “where you going to Butlins, aburnt down last night”.
A big thanks to the Stagshead pub Dunster, really looked after us with two excellent meals, great staff….brilliant cheese board they knocked up.
Well done to Coops for planning the rides despite the endless abuse he got for map reading.

Foxdale